Ask sophomore Kris Boyd who he thinks the loudest, biggest talker on the Texas defense is, and he might brush the question off. Or he might say it’s either himself or fellow freshman defensive back Chris Brown who likes to jaw the most.
But he’ll say it in a slightly hushed, rather reserved tone. He won’t give any indication that he likes to smack talk with both teammates and opponents when he makes a big play — he’ll just give a small hint that maybe that’s the case.
“I really don’t know, that’s just how I am,” Boyd said. “I love laughter, joking, all of that. That’s just it.”
But Boyd backed up his talk last weekend. He clinched the Longhorns’ first road win of the season with an interception off of the nation’s leading passer, junior quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, with less than 10 seconds remaining in Lubbock.
Still, he let his play do the talking on the foggy, soggy plains in West Texas that day. But his teammates will be the first to admit that it isn’t always how it plays out. Boyd likes to spout off on the field.
“Yeah, Kris Boyd is always talking,” senior safety Dylan Haines said. “The guy never closes his mouth. My locker, I’m so blessed, is right next to his. I get to hear Kris Boyd everyday, all day, 24/7.”
Boyd has been criticized for poor performances time and time again this season. His greatest gaffe occurred at the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma. He simply stopped running with junior wide receiver Dede Westbrook on a deep route, allowing Westbrook an easy catch in stride.
The cornerback from Gilmer, Texas, could have let his errors against the Sooners affect his play the rest of the season. Instead, under head coach Charlie Strong’s command, Boyd has reversed his fortunes and has emerged as one of the Longhorns’ best defensive backs.
“He’s just at a different level right now,” Strong said. “He’s kind of separating himself from the rest of those defensive backs, how well he’s playing.”
Boyd, a staple at cornerback in Strong’s lineup all season long, failed to break up a pass in his first five contests. He responded with three pass breakups against Iowa State and added another against Baylor.
Last week against Texas Tech, Boyd came up with a career-high eight tackles, slotting him at No. 2 on the team in takedowns. As he continues to play well, he’ll continue to let everyone know about it. Strong said Boyd just has a different attitude about him, and sometimes he has to make sure it doesn’t get too out of hand.
In fact, Strong said he’d prefer if Boyd didn’t talk. It cost the team 15 yards and an Iowa State first down when Texas played the Cyclones on Oct. 15 when Boyd picked up a personal foul for taunting. The Longhorn defense would have gotten off the field on third down if not for the foul.
But for someone like Boyd, it’s just his nature. He hasn’t gotten flagged for running his mouth since taunting the Cyclones. Instead, he’s just improved his play. If he continues to couple competent performance with a little bit of heckling, Boyd could transform into a true defensive force for Texas. Still, Strong would still accept the latter without much of the former.
“You’ve got to taper him down,” Strong said. “You don’t need all the talk ... when you talk, then you allow a guy to really take away from your game, so don’t even listen to it. Just stay level-headed and just continue to just get better and just play through the game.”